Liverpool’s new-found character helped them secure a last-gasp 3-2 win at bottom club Fulham in the Premier League on Wednesday, a game that manager Brendan Rodgers said they would have lost last season.
Rodgers explained that a two-goal deficit 12 months ago would have been too high a hurdle to overcome before adding that team spirit was infinitely better this term.
“I’m sure in the first four or five months I was here we would have lost that game,” he told a news conference after fourth-placed Liverpool reinforced their title credentials by moving within four points of leaders Chelsea.
“But we’ve now built a way of working and a way of playing. Not only that but also a spirit and camaraderie that sees us fight to the very end - that’s what got us the result,” said Rodgers after a last-gasp Steven Gerrard penalty clinched victory.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has described his team as “little horses” in the title race.
“I don’t know about horses ... we might be the chihuahua that runs in between the legs of the horses,” laughed Rodgers.
Strikes from Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho twice brought Liverpool back on level terms after a dreadful own goal from Kolo Toure and a poor clearance by Martin Skrtel set up Fulham’s second for Kieran Richardson.
Captain Gerrard coolly slotted home from the spot in stoppage time and Rodgers hailed his captain’s professionalism.
“Steven is peerless in many aspects of football. His performance tonight was yet again excellent,” said the manager.
“He studies the keepers and knows which way they dive. There’s no better person to take a penalty in the last minute of the game to get the three points.”
Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen believed his side were unlucky at Craven Cottage.
“I definitely think we deserved at least a point,” said the Dutchman. “We were well organised and didn’t let them get in to a rhythm.
“You get your noses in front but a team in this position drops a little bit deeper, working hard to get something out of the game, and then you lose 3-2. It’s very hard to take.”